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Alabama could snag an at-large bid

Tuesday night's results benefited the Crimson Tide's NCAA tourney hopes

Originally Published: March 9, 2011
By Ian Gordon | ESPN Insider

While most bubble teams don't tip off their conference tournaments until this afternoon, there were two key games last night that every on-the-cusp squad had their eyes on: Milwaukee Panthers-Butler Bulldogs and Providence Friars-Marquette Golden Eagles. More than anything, the results of those two matchups -- with Butler taking home the Horizon championship and Marquette advancing past the first round of the Big East tourney -- left the bubble picture looking pretty much the same as before tipoff.

You see, maximum bubble impact would have occurred if the Panthers and the Friars had both secured Tuesday night upsets. Milwaukee, which finished in a three-way tie at the top of the Horizon this season, had the look of a classic bid thief. The Panthers (19-13, RPI No. 95) twice had beaten the Bulldogs; had they pulled off the trifecta, they would have cast the league's defending champion back onto the bubble. Considering Butler's solid résumé (22-9 overall, RPI No. 34, 4-3 vs. top 50), the Bulldogs likely would have grabbed an at-large bid -- thus denying another fringe team an NCAA berth.

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